THE BURGESS ANIMAL BOOK FOR CHILDREN
By Thornton W. Burgess
TO THE CAUSE OF WILD LIFE IN AMERICA, ESPECIALLY THE MAMMALS MANY OF WHICH ARE SERIOUSLY THREATENED WITH EXTINCTION, THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED.
The cordial reception given the Burgess Bird Book for Children, together with numerous letters to the author asking for information on the habits and characteristics of many of the mammals of America, led to the preparation of this volume. It is offered merely as an introduction to the four-footed friends, little and big, which form so important a part of the wild life of the United States and Canada.
There has been no attempt to describe or classify sub-species. That is for the scientist and student with specific interests. The purpose of this book is to acquaint the reader with the larger groups—orders, families, and divisions of the latter, so that typical representatives may be recognized and their habits understood.
Instead of the word mammal, the word animal has been used throughout as having a better defined meaning to the average child. A conscientious effort to avoid technical terms and descriptions has been made that there may be nothing to confuse the young mind. Clarity and simplicity have been the objects kept constantly in view.
At the same time the utmost care to be accurate in the smallest details has been exercised. To this end the works of leading authorities on American mammals have been carefully consulted and compared. No statements which are not confirmed by two or more naturalists of recognized standing have been made.
In this research work the writings of Audubon and Bachman, Dr. E.W. Neson, Dr. C. Hart Merriam, Dr. W.T. Hornaday, Ernest Thompson Seton and others, together with the bulletins of the Biological Survey of the Department of Agriculture at Washington, have been of the greatest value. I herewith acknowledge my debt to these.
Whatever the text may lack in clearness of description will be amply compensated for by the wonderful drawings in color and black-an-white by Mr. Louis Agassiz Fuertes, the artist-naturalist, whose hearty cooperation has been a source of great help to me. These drawings were made especially for this book and add in no small degree to such value as it may possess.
If the reading of these pages shall lead even a few to an active interest in our wild animals, stimulating a desire to preserve and protect a priceless heritage from the past which a heedless present threatens through wanton and reckless waste to deny the future, the labor will have been well worth while.
Only through intimate acquaintance may understanding of the animals in their relations to each other and to man be attained. To serve as a medium for this purpose this book has been written. As such I offer it to the children of America, conscious of its shortcomings yet hopeful that it will prove of some value in acquainting them with their friends and mine—the animals of field and wood, of mountain and desert, in the truest sense the first citizens of America. THORNTON W. BURGESS